In the fall of fourth grade, I got a new dress for picture day. The dress was brown velvet with princess sleeves, a satin sash, and a cream lace trim. It was a pretty dress, all silky and shiny lookin.
I only wore it once.
I don’t like velvet.
I love the soft, plush, luxurious look of velvet.
I gawk at velvet sofas, velvet jackets, velvet throws, but I won’t touch them. I don’t care how expensive or how well made it is, it’s all vile.
Touching velvet is repulsive.
Touching velvet feels wrong.
Touching velvet is like petting a cat in the wrong direction, tugging a cotton ball from a medicine bottle, pulling styrofoam-packs from a box.
Do you know what I mean?
Just thinking about touching velvet paints my skin with goosebumps.
When I think about touching velvet, I am ten and I smooth my skirt on the bus. A shiver runs through my body and I wonder how anything so beautiful can torment me to the point that my teeth ache. If I run my hand one way, it feels slightly less disturbing. This inconsistency bothers me and so I stop touching it at all. The sound of it rings in my ears.
When I get to school and take my coat off, all the girls want to touch my dress. I wince and fake smiles for their compliments.
I can’t focus on my morning work, because I can hear the sound of the velvet crunching like snow beneath me. I try to be still, but the sound lingers. I stand up, flounce and fan the skirt of my dress across the back of my seat. I’m satisfied with only my slip between me and the cold, hard chair, but I can still hear the velvet rustling with every mark my pencil makes.
I am so happy in music and at recess because the piano and the wind are louder than my dress.
By the afternoon, it’s time for math, and I pray I don’t get called to the board. Walking in silence, this dress is too loud. I try to keep my arms still at my side, but I can hear the dress crushing and crunching as I make my way to the board. No one else seems to hear it.
When I get home, I use a steak knife to tear the lace from the hem of my dress and rip the seam along the side. It has a lining, so I’m careful to ruin that as well. My father and I can both sew only adequately, so I need to mess up the dress in a way that will be too hard for either of us to fix. I hang the dress and change into my play clothes.
My father never asked me to wear the dress again, but at some point, he removed it because I’d outgrown it. If he noticed the hem, he never mentioned it.
So when Moo tells me her clothes are too scratchy, when she insists I cut her tags out and she wears tights under almost everything because the seams itch and sting her, no, I don’t fuss at her. Does she have sensory issues? Most likely. But that’s okay, I understand.